Home HP Researchers Design Intelligent Social Network with Focus on “Real” Friends

HP Researchers Design Intelligent Social Network with Focus on “Real” Friends

From HP’s Social Computing Lab comes news of Friendlee, an entirely new kind of social network that focuses on the intimate connections between close friends, family, and colleagues. The application, designed to operate on your mobile phone, tracks your call and messaging history to provide an ambient awareness of who your “real” friends are and then adds those people to your social network. Not only that, but Friendlee also tracks the businesses you call frequently to identify your preferred services which can then be used as recommendations to your network of friends.

The Problem with Social Networks

With today’s current crop of social networking applications like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, the decisions about who you “friend” are made consciously, based on a number of criteria unique to the individual. Often, these networks become crowded with people who you barely know, but find interesting. That’s a social network, yes, but it’s not one that reflects your real-life relationships. Even Facebook, the current social darling, has moved away from being about real-life friendships. With the ability to friend public figures and brands and the ability to sort friends into lists, the push is on to expand your network beyond close, personal connections.

Similar issues face the mobile social networks emerging now. Applications like Loopt and Brightkite still require you to add friends which leads to, again, networks that consist of acquaintances and other folks you only know marginally well.

How Friendlee is Different

Because there really isn’t a network that taps into your real world relationships, the HP researchers decided to build one. In Friendlee, the social graph is automatically constructed with minimal input required from the user since the software tracks the call and messaging history to determine your connections.

In addition, Friendlee introduces a set of “ambient awareness” indicators that provide useful information about your friends’ statuses. For example, indicators will include current location, time spent at that location, local time, weather, a status message, and even your friend’s phone’s status: busy, phone on hold, engaged, silent, or vibrate. Imagine how useful it would be to know if your friend’s phone was busy or turned to silent before you even dialed it!

Friendlee isn’t just a contacts-replacement application, though. It is a network. The app actually lets you see your immediate contacts, of course, but it lets you see your friends’ contacts as well. These lists are sorted by the strength of the connections, something that’s determined by the frequency and duration of the interactions.

Because not everyone would be comfortable sharing their contact information with a social network, intimate or not, Friendlee includes privacy controls that let you configure who gets to see what. That way, you could configure anyone in the “Family” category to see everything, but other groups would have access to less information.

Friendlee consists of three components: the phone-based client, a web interface where you can interact with the data, and a backend server that stores a copy of all the information in a database. The client would sync with the server several times per minute, updating the system with call history, location, time, and other information.

Still a Prototype Only (Boo!)

At the moment, Friendlee is in prototype form for both the Android and Windows Mobile operating systems, so you can only drool over it now. The prototypes will be put into field testing while improvements are made before it ever becomes publicly available.

We normally wouldn’t post about an application which you can’t even try out yet (we hate to tease!), but this one sounded downright revolutionary. We were just too excited not to share the news with you.

Note: we requested more information about Friendlee’s public availability but have not heard back yet from HP.

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